NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For better or worse, we are now in the Facebook@work era.
Call me crazy, but when Mark Zuckerberg dreamed up Facebook as a way to meet girls at Harvard, I bet he didn't envision becoming the backbone of the American small office.
My Social Voicemail is a free app that posts voice mail as text on a Facebook wall -- one of several such tools transforming the site into a small-business option.
But a new generation of American workers -- particularly the young, interesting, Web-connected and, let's be honest, cheap ones we small-biz types like to hire -- are unrepentant Facebook junkies. The company, wisely, has felt the small-business love and loaded up the social media service with significant business features. Facebook now supports reasonable document editing and has vastly improved privacy settings and collaboration features. Forget
Sites. Without question, the fastest, easiest way to set up a small-business intranet is to create a Facebook company page and strictly administer who can see to it. Try it. You'll see.
Not surprisingly, third-party app developers have been quick to pick up on Facebook as a small-business tool. And if you are using Facebook -- which, these days, you must -- knowing which apps have small-business game is critical.
Here are three that focus on collaboration:
Vonage Mobile App for Facebook
You know VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol telephony. Well,
that is, Voice over Facebook -- which is not surprising considering Vonage was a pioneer in VoIP for the small-business.
This is a neat little telephony tool that works via a Facebook identity. Assuming the person you want to call has downloaded the app, you can call any Facebook friend from any
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Android device. And given even a modest Wi-Fi connection on both sides, call quality can be not bad. I loved not having to remember anybody's phone number or contact information. Essentially, I could summon virtually any of my team by just entering their Facebook handle. It even works overseas. Not bad.
The only bummer? The app is not a conferencing tool. It's strictly, in my tests, a one-to-one solution. But for a small team trying to stay connected, the Vonage Mobile app is remarkably handy.
My Social Voicemail
My Social Voicemail
transcribes an inbound voice mail into text and posts it on a Facebook wall. The system -- developed by Vienna, Va.-based Angel, experts in call center and contact management systems -- also provides a link to the original voice message so any issues with transcription can be addressed. Assuming your company wall is properly administered so only your team can see it, the app gives you a no-cost, crazy-powerful customer service system. Inbound sales queries, customer support questions and other calls can be extracted from your phone system and placed where all can see them. Keep in mind, the transcription can be wonky, protocols for managing Facebook queries must be created and getting the messaging to work with company voice mail will take some work. But considering that your business is probably already doing business on Facebook, My Social Voicemail can be pretty darn handy.
Seen Video Calls for Facebook
Figure it's time to start doing face-to-face meetings on Facebook?
, by OpenMarket Limited, is the answer. The tool enables video calling using a Facebook identity and existing phone contacts. Assuming both users have video capabilities and a decent connection, video quality is better than you might expect, though you are not dealing with a collaborative tool here. Seen can only make a one-to-one phone call. But I do like this tool as an outreach solution for getting in the face of hard-to-reach clients. With just a bit of setup, and if you finesse it right, you can make get real face-to-face time with your customers via Seen.
Give all these a try, and tell me Facebook is not making a run at the small-business market.
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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.